Every year I engage in the tedious experiment of trying to predict the draft. After about the 4th pick in the draft, it becomes obvious that reading the tea leaves of NFL organizations is nearly impossible. Nevertheless, I’m going to torture myself once again by trying to outsmart the brain trusts of general managers.
I’m mocking 4 trades to take place in the first round. None of these are blockbuster deals that involve multiple firsts and mortgaging the future – I’ll leave that to the actual GMs. Moving up or down a few spots would seem advantageous when one considers who is picking next and who is still available. The trades are as follows:
- (15) NE – (8) CAR
- (20) MIA – (14) MIN
- (26) CLE – (21) IND
Round 1.1: Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)
Biggest needs: QB, WR, OT
There is really nothing to say here. Lawrence is going to be the #1 pick and that’s about the only sure thing this year.
Round 1.2: New York Jets – Zach Wilson (QB, BYU)
Biggest needs: QB, iOL, CB
Another predictable selection. Barring a Tunsil-esque revelation on draft day, Zach Wilson will be the Jets new franchise quarterback.
Round 1.3: San Francisco 49ers – Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)
Biggest needs: QB, CB, iOL
This is really when the draft begins. The ‘9ers certainly traded up to #3 for a QB, but the jury is out which one. I don’t know what to believe anymore, but the betting markets (and Kyle Shanny) seem enamored by Mac Jones, but the organization seems to prefer Lance. I’m going with Lance because of his upside.
Round 1.4: Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida)
The Falcons are going to have an extremely difficult time finding a trade partner willing to offer enough to move up from #15 (Pats), #19 (WTF), #20 (Bears). The only team I think has enough draft capital to reasonably make a move is Denver at #9. There’s a ton of rumors this week about the Falcons moving Julio this off-season. Pitts would be his replacement.
Round 1.5: Cincinnati Bengals – Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)
Biggest needs: Everything except QB
I’m caving on this selection. After having Penei Sewell mocked in sharpie to the Bengals for the last 3 months, I’m switching to Ja’Marr Chase. There’s way too much talk about reuniting Burrow and Chase and rekindling their chemistry while winning a national championship together at LSU.
Round 1.6: Miami Dolphins – Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)
Biggest needs: OL, EDGE
This is a nightmare scenario for the Dolphins, who moved back and up again to #6 praying for either Pitts or Chase to fall to them. Here’s a consolation prize: a franchise left tackle to pair with Austin Jackson.
Round 1.7: Detroit Lions – Jaylen Waddle (WR, Alabama)
Biggest needs: WR, LB, DB
Detroit lost their top two pass catchers this off-season. They replace one of them with Waddle AND collect some more draft capital in the process. Is Waddle the next Tyreek Hill? We know Goff isn’t Mahomes, but Detroit still has to give the guy some help on offense.
Round 1.8: TRADE FROM CAR to New England Patriots – Justin Fields (QB, OSU)
Biggest needs: QB, WR, S
The Patriots shock the world and actually move up in the draft…to select a QB of the future. After the free agent frenzy, the cupboard is pretty well stocked for the next few years. Unfortunately, it cost the Pats a lot of cap space, so finding a cheap option at QB is paramount.
Round 1.9: Denver Broncos – Micah Parsons (MLB, Penn State)
Biggest needs: QB, MLB, DT
After trading for Teddy Bridges, they address the other side of the ball.
Round 1.10: Dallas Cowboys – Jaycee Horn (CB, South Carolina)
Biggest needs: DB, DT, EDGE
The Cowboys need help at all levels of their defense. Horn has the perfect skill set and attitude for the Cowboys.
Round 1.11: New York Giants – DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)
Biggest needs: OT, EDGE, CB
The Giants are huge wildcards with this selection. They could go in several directions – WR, EDGE, CB, S, OL – but I’m going to guess the selection is Parsons if he is still available. Gettleman seems to like him a lot and it would fill a massive need. Unfortunately, he’s gone in this mock so they settle for plan B: DeVonta Smith.
Round 1.12: Philadelphia Eagles – Patrick Surtain II (CB, Alabama)
Biggest needs: WR, EDGE, CB
The Eagles traded back a month before the draft not knowing who would be available and have options. I can’t get a read on what they would do in this situation, but they can still get a decent WR at the top of the second round. I don’t know if this can be said about the CB class.
Round 1.13: Los Angeles Chargers – Rashawn Slater (OL, Northwestern)
Biggest needs: OT, EDGE, CB
The Chargers still need to fix their offensive line if they want to keep Herbert off the ground. The tackle position is especially weak with Trey Pipkins slotted as the starting LT.
Round 1.14: TRADE FROM MIN to Chicago Bears – Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)
Biggest needs: OL, CB, QB
The Vikings’ list of needs just keeps growing this off-season, especially after Jeff Gladney was arrested on a felony assault charge. In a year with so many needs, the Vikings are also missing a second round pick. I could see them moving back and dumping this pick, but I don’t know who makes sense to move up. In a rare inter-division trade, the Vikings get their 2nd rounder back while Chicago upgrades from Andy Dalton.
Round 1.15: TRADE FROM NE to Carolina Panthers – Christian Darrisaw (OT, Virginia Tech)
Biggest needs: OL, MLB, CB
The Panthers need to improve their line so Darnold doesn’t “see ghosts” as frequently.
Round 1.16: Arizona Cardinals – Alijah Vera-Tucker (iOL, USC)
Biggest needs: CB, RB, iOL
This is not an ideal situation for the Cardinals, who really need a CB to replace Patrick Peterson. With Surtain II and Horn off the board, they might consider trading back or dealing with it in the next round. Their O-Line isn’t bad, but they could use someone with the skill set of Vera-Tucker, who is a great fit at iOL. However, I don’t think they leave CB to chance and draft Farley, who would be a top-10 pick if he didn’t have a rash of recent injuries.
Round 1.17: Las Vegas Raiders – Teven Jenkins (OT, Oklahoma State)
Biggest needs: iOL, CB, LB
The Raiders just have so many needs, it’s just hard to predict what they are going to do. They lost 3/5 of their starting offensive line this off-season, so I would imagine they might want to do something about that.
Round 1.18: Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye (EDGE, Michigan)
Biggest needs: OL, CB, DT
The Dolphins will draft a defender with this second selection and EDGE is a massive need. Paye is one of my favorite players in this draft, ESPN actually did an article about his life.
Round 1.19: Washington Football Team – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (LB, Notre Dame)
Biggest needs: QB, OT, LB
The Washington Football team bolsters a defense that is already elite. Adding the versatile LB Owusu-Koramoah isn’t even fair. This dude can ball and embodies the trend of modern-day linebackers that have sideline-to-sideline speed and coverage skills.
Round 1.20: TRADE CHI to Minnesota Vikings – Jaelan Phillips (EDGE, Miami)
Biggest need: EDGE, CB, iOL
The pass rush of Minnesota has taken a major step backwards and Hunter’s future in Minnesota is questionable at best. This could end up being the steal of the draft if Phillips can stay healthy.
Round 1.21: TRADE FROM IND to Cleveland Browns – Caleb Farley (CB, Virginia Tech)
Biggest needs: EDGE, CB, DT
The Browns have 2 high-priority needs: EDGE and CB. Since they signed Clowney, CB becomes a higher priority need. If they stay put at #26, there’s a good chance that Newsome and Farley are gone, leaving them with the undersized Asante Samuel, Jr. Since the draft is in Cleveland this year, I expect them to do something interesting, so might as well part ways with an extra 3rd rounder and move up to address the cornerback need.
Round 1.22: Tennessee Titans – Rashod Bateman (WR, Minnesota)
Biggest needs: CB, WR, OT
The Titans don’t have many needs, but CB and WR are the weakest links and they should be strongly considering CB Greg Newsome II or WR Rashod Bateman. With Newsome gone one selection earlier, it makes the decision much easier. The Titans lost 3 of their top-5 receivers this off-season: Corey Davis (984 yards), Jonnu Smith (448 yards) and Adam Humphries (228 yards). A.J. Brown needs some help and Bateman would be a welcome sight.
Round 1.23: New York Jets – Greg Newsome II (CB, Northwestern)
Biggest needs: iOL, CB, EDGE
After the Zach Wilson pick, this one has defense written all over it. They hired former SF Defensive Coordinator Salah as their new Head Coach. The pass defense is absolutely abysmal and Newsome would be a huge upgrade.
Round 1.24: Pittsburgh Steelers – Najee Harris (RB, Alabama)
Biggest needs: OL, RB, CB
The Steelers have been rumored to be targeting a running back in the first two rounds. While this feels like an overpay, Harris seems to have won over the Steelers coaching staff as the preferred running back. There isn’t an OT worth taking here, so I would be shocked if Harris isn’t the selection here.
Round 1.25: Jacksonville Jaguars – Christian Barmore (DT, Alabama)
Biggest needs: WR, OT, S
The Jags never really replaced Calais Campbell and have the luxury of drafting BPA here. They should also be considering Trevon Moehrig, but we’ll see if they want to invest in the secondary.
Round 1.26: TRADE FROM CLE to Indianapolis Colts – Azeez Ojulari (EDGE, Georgia)
Biggest needs: OL, EDGE
The Colts have to choose between Ojulari, who shouldn’t even still be available and Cosmi to protect their investment at QB. It wouldn’t surprise me if they traded back up in the second to get a franchise left tackle, but they won’t pass up on the pure speed rusher at #26.
Round 1.27: Baltimore Ravens – Zaven Collins (LB, Tulsa)
Biggest needs: WR, OL, EDGE
The Ravens get a gift with another first round selection. They promptly turn that selection into a player that has the attitude and fit for the Ravens defense. Collins may be a “small school” prospect, but there’s nothing small about this man. At 270 lbs, he was a versatile piece at Tulsa – excelling at run stopping, coverage and pass rushing.
Round 1.28: New Orleans Saints – Trevon Moehrig (S, TCU)
Biggest needs: WR, CB
The Saints have Marcus Williams under the franchise tag and some serious salary cap concerns going forward. Moehrig would be a complementary piece this year and a potential replacement next year.
Round 1.29: Green Bay Packers – Kadarius Toney (WR, Florida)
Biggest needs: CB, WR
The Packers really only have 2 big needs: CB and WR. Even though they signed Kevin King, they are still looking for someone to pair with Jaire Alexander. While Asante Samuel Jr. would be appealing here, they need to finally give Rodgers some help. Toney has video game moves for a receiver, he would be a welcome sight on offence.
Round 1.30: Buffalo Bills – Gregory Rousseau (EDGE, Miami)
Biggest needs: OL, EDGE, RB
Hughes and Addison are getting older and there’s really no downside to having a pass rush depth. This is a great situation because Rousseau hasn’t played football in over a year and easing him into the defense would be great for both parties.
Round 1.31: Baltimore Ravens – Terrace Marshall (WR, LSU)
Biggest needs: OL, EDGE
Terrace Marshall is a bigger WR (6’3″) with a great catch radius and can make contested plays on the ball. In other words, everything the Ravens need. This is a slam dunk pick if he is still available.
Round 1.32: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jayson Oweh (EDGE, Penn State)
Biggest needs: DT, EDGE
The Bucs don’t really need anything right now, but they could always use a future replacement for JPP.